A new report suggests that Australian businesses must significantly increase their investments in ESG compliance, market engagement, and reporting to align with global standards and meet stakeholder expectations.
The report, part of the CommsWatch series by leading Brisbane-based consultancy BBS Communications Group, explores the growing importance of ESG for businesses and corporate communicators. In the wake of Australia’s ambitious commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and the continual evolution of regulatory standards, the report underscores that ESG reporting has become an unignorable focal point.
Beyond regulatory concerns, there’s a burgeoning scrutiny from stakeholders, the general public, and the media, which collectively exerts substantial pressure on businesses. These entities are now compelled to comprehend, take concrete actions, and transparently communicate their efforts concerning ESG factors.
In her role as Head of Research and Analytics, Amanda Firth is instrumental in spearheading these revelations. She underlines that marketing and communication leaders, as well as their teams, shoulder a direct responsibility in ensuring that claims related to an organization’s ESG-based endeavors are not just accurate but also transparent. She noted, “As Australia strives to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and regulatory requirements continue to evolve, ESG reporting is receiving heightened attention. With growing scrutiny from stakeholders, the public, and media, businesses face significant pressure to better understand, act on, and report ESG factors.”
Firth added, “Marketing and communications leaders and teams, as custodians of internal and external communications promoting an organization’s ESG efforts, play a direct role in ensuring the accuracy and transparency of any claims made.”
The report identifies recent global and Australian developments that have increased the urgency for all Australian public or private businesses to enhance their ESG efforts and reporting. Firth explained, “The issue of greenwashing has been a key focus for both the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC). ASIC even initiated its first legal action related to greenwashing in March 2023.”
Firth continued, “The Australian Treasury’s consultation on climate-related financial disclosure and the ACCC’s draft principles for improving environmental and sustainability claims integrity highlight the evolving regulatory landscape. In the years to come, communications professionals will need to employ robust strategic, analytical, communication, and engagement skills, collaborating closely with technical specialists in areas such as assurance, risk management, financial relations, operations, and policy development.”
Regarding media, the report identifies numerous ESG-focused media outlets worldwide, including local mainstream, business, and industry-focused outlets covering related issues.
“This presents both an opportunity for organisations to profile their efforts, as well as a need to boost their readiness to provide accurate and compelling proof points to journalists,” Ms Firth said.
“Reporting frameworks, tools and analysis will be key to tracking and reporting on claims in ways that make sense to clients and customers, investors, financiers, collaborators and decision makers.”
The full report is available for download at www.bbscommunications.com.au/resources